Two women prisoners in the New York correctional facility at Rikers Island have filed a federal lawsuit against one of the facility’s correctional officers. New York City was also named in the suit. The women plaintiffs have stated that one of the officers repeatedly raped them. They stated that any attempt at reporting the assaults would result in threats from the officer, however the assault was reported to officials. When told about the incidents, the officials told them that nothing could be done.
The suit alleges that the offending officer made several threats to the women if they reported any assaults, i.e., the other inmates would be allowed to beat the women up. The attorney for the victims have said there are allegations that when the Rikers Island officers get reported for anything, “retaliation includes threats and other verbal abuse, deprivation of food for extended periods of time, refusing to permit women to bathe, and placing them in punitive segregation based on false disciplinary charges.”
A public advocate has petitioned the City of New York to bring Rikers Island in line with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The advocate states, “It really doesn’t come as a surprise – – the City for a long time has turned a blind eye to unacceptable rates of sexual victimization on Rikers Island.” Congress passed PREA in 2003, to create a zero tolerance for assaults like this. The Department of Justice took almost ten years creating “final standards” for the law. Many corrections facilities have not come into compliance even now.
It is funny that a spokesperson for the New York Department of Corrections stated that the Department does have a “zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual abuse and assault”, but a Rikers Island correctional officer was accused of rape. The spokesperson declined to comment on the current charges. We have not heard from the Rikers Island correctional officer accused of inmate rape.
Photo by dsearls